It's a daily dilemma for me: how to see what my bus mate is reading without him or her knowing that I'm looking. I am always fascinated by what people are reading and Portland, being a city of readers, gives me ample opportunity to hone my spying skills.
People are reading on the bus, and in the coffee shops, of course, and they are reading in the grocery stores, restaurants, and in their cars. Yes, in their cars. Scary. And cool.
By profession, I should know at least some books by their covers or, in the case of Harry Potter, by the type font. Some authors are easy ? James Patterson, Stephen King, Tami Hoag ? their books have a certain look to them. Tami Hoag's name is in that skinny sans-serif font, for example.
This morning on the bus ride in to work one guy had a book called Native America. The lady beside me was reading Prey by Michael Crichton (Is he just writing the same book over and over again?). Another was reading Stephen King's The Dark Tower and I thought, "I really should read that series." And so, alas, my Powells.com Wishlist grows.
I get to practice my voyeurism at work, too. We probably have the quietest lunch room in the world ? everyone is reading. Since I know them, I don't feel badly about taking an overt peek at the books or saying "Hey, what's that?" if I can't figure it out on my own.
I am surrounded by passionate readers! It is heaven. I can't say I never hear people talking about American Idol or Lost or even All My Children but almost every conversation comes around to books.
I also get to spend my working days talking about books.* I know it is unusual for a bookstore to have a contact center and even more unusual for a dot-com to have an on-site contact center, but here we are. I really fell into the job. When I got called for an interview they cautioned me that it was for "phone work." I knew I could handle it; I didn't know I would love it.
* Ok, full disclosure: I'm in management, so no way do I get to spend all of my days talking to customers, but every Saturday I spend the day on the phone with customers and answer customer emails. The rest of the week, I try to make sure that my staff has everything they need to be great booksellers.